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Tools and methods to do an UX Expert Review

You already know the sections of an UX Expert Review and why each one is important, but how to do it?


Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

To establish the usability problems and strengths you will need to have a set of guidelines and heuristics to start on. There are many of them out there, but is safe to assume that the most commonly used is the 10 Usability Heuristics by Jakob Nielsen.

Others can be:

  • Weinschenk and Barker classification
  • ISO Dialogue Principles
  • Shneiderman’s Eight Golden Rules
  • 247 web usability guidelines
  • Guidelines by Smith & Mosier (this one contains almost 1.000 guidelines!)

You can also combine heuristics to customize your own set that is most applicable to your platform in analysis or for your company.

Now, to establish the severity rating of the problems you will need to have a way to identify the factors and they extension.

As has been written here, there are 3 variables (Impact, Persistence, Frequency) that helps to identify the heaviness of a problem.

Impact

You need to know if the problem occurs in a section of the application that is more common use.

How?

You need to establish a method or tool that helps you understand what the user do in the app and classify those tasks in more or least common. This will help to understand if the problem occurs in a area that is commonly used. First you need to know the goals and the tasks of your users and the most habitual ones.

Summarizing it, the more common a task is the more the user will use that area(s) of the application in order to achieve his goals. If the problem occur in those areas the problem have an high impact.

Useful tools/ methods:

  • Red Routes
  • Surveys
  • Tasks analysis

Persistence

You need to know if the problem is difficult to overcome.

How?

You need to establish a method or tool that helps you understand if the user can finish those task and achieve the goal. And if he can do it how they do it. How many times is successful in do it is also an excellent data to have.

Summarizing it, the more difficult a task is to complete the more persistent is the problem.

Useful tools/ methods:

  • Complete a task yourself (as a tech-savvy you can assume if it difficult for you, it must be for more less experienced users)
  • Access to completion rate data (if possible)

Frequency

You need to know if the problem happens a lot or not.

How?

You need to establish a method or tool that helps you understand how many times it happens and how many places it happens.

Summarizing it, the more times a problem appears the more frequent is the problem.

Useful tools/ methods:

Explore the problem yourself (countdown how many times you identify the problem cross by the application, the times it appears will reflect the frequency of it. If it happens ⅛ of the times is not that frequent)

After all of this is identified it’s time to break down to the actual level:This scheme helps to get a severity rating classification

Interpret the severity rating

Critical

This usability problem may make some users unwilling or unable to complete a common task. Fix urgently.

Serious

This usability problem may significantly slow down some users when completing a common task and may cause customers to find a workaround. Fix as soon as possible.

Medium

This usability problem may make some users feel frustrated or irritated but will not affect task completion.

Low

This is a problem that regards a quality, for example a cosmetic issue or a spelling error.

Note: Although this is a minor issue in isolation, too many “lows” will negatively affect credibility and may damage your product.

Example: template of a page with a problem and a page with charts

Ask for a second and a third input

A single reviewer only covers 60% of the usability problems. You will need from 2 to 5 reviewers. The reasons are:

  • Some reviewers havemore domain knowledge than others in some business areas (depending the business of the app) while means they can find problems you’ll miss
  • Some reviewers tend to be sensitive or more skilled to a sub-set of usability issues (some on visual design, others with information architecture
  • Some reviewers had more experience gain with exposure to users (with usability tests or field visits) and this means they are more sensitive to identifying the usability issues that may affect the people in the real world

Ideally, the reviewers should be an expert both in usability and in the subject domain of the project

When a UX Expert Review should be done?

  • Can be done for desktop, tablet or mobile applications
  • Can be executed at any phase in the design cycle
  • Typically is used before a major redesign project
  • Ideally is conducted every 2 to 5 years
  • Applications that have never be submitted a design review
  • Applications that have to validate new designs

As you can see, this is a version of a major report that evolves some work, and the evidence of it relies, initially, on the client engagement in reuniting all the data to start the analysis. It’s a great method because allows having in one place an extensive analysis and justifications for everything.

This is part II of an article, click here if you want to see part I